On a spring Tuesday, Mike received a text message inviting him to a meeting with management. There’d been rumblings about changes at the corporate office lately, but at 62, Mike was experienced, good at his job and well-liked; he had no real reason for concern. As his 12:30 meeting time approached he wasn’t worried, but he asked his wife and children to say a prayer for him, all the same.
At 12:30, Mike was laid off from his job of several years. By 3 o’clock, he had turned in his phone, laptop and company vehicle.
Knowing he was one of hundreds laid off in a corporate restructure was, perhaps, more reassuring than if his layoff had been a performance issue – it was not – but the shared fiscal distress of hundreds of colleagues did little to improve his situation. With only a few years to go until retirement, Mike had just lost his job, and the prospects of replacing the income he enjoyed based on tenure and experience are few.
Job loss is a bummer no matter the circumstances. Hearing someone else’s story on the topic makes us grateful and gives us perspective. When the dedicated employee in question is your dad ... well, it certainly makes me grateful that my father is a man of steadfast faith and a firm believer in the power of prayer.
I asked my dad, a man I respect and admire for his faith, dedication to family, and strong work ethic, to share his story. To lend courage. To remind people going through similar circumstances that they aren’t alone. To give hope to someone feeling cast aside.
How does his faith in God deepen his perspective in the face of the challenge of being laid off? “My Christian faith means no matter what happens at work, I feel that the Lord is watching over all that goes on in my life. God is all encompassing – there isn’t any particular event that God isn’t part of.
“I was laid off along with 20% of my company. I wasn’t victimized or singled out. The biggest thing for me is that I was surprised at how quickly it happened. I’m almost 63 years old, and it’s the first time I’ve ever been fired.”
(Of course he wasn’t fired, hundreds of people were laid off. But the unpleasant feeling of sudden job loss has a similar sting.)
“I was at peace with what happened,” he continued, “because I knew the Lord would watch out for us and take care of us. I had no reason to panic.”
Dad opened his Bible to refer to a scripture from 1 John 4:18:
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment... ."
“There was no reason for me to fear, because God’s love casts out fear," he noted.
My dad’s advice: “Don’t put your trust or faith in things that are not eternal. All the things in this world are temporal – temporary. That includes your work. If you want to avoid a lot of heartache, suffering, and uncertainty, don’t put your trust and faith in things of the world. The stock market, IRAs, anything to do with little green pieces of paper. If money is the only thing you have in your life, you’re already broke.”
Dad told me about a colleague, a man he worked alongside for years until this recent layoff. From time to time, this particular work buddy would express sympathy for my dad, saying, “You’re broke, buddy! I feel bad that you and your wife are ... well, poor.”
Setting aside that living in America, owning a home, having food in the cupboard, and being middle class means my parents are financially better off than most of the rest of the world, this gentleman’s perspective was far different than my dad’s. That man and his wife never had children, but they have a fancy house, expensive cars, lots of “toys,” and the means to travel often. But my dad always had the perfect response: “I’m the richest man I know! I’ve got a family, and children and grandchildren who love me.”
“Money can’t buy love or real security, never will be able to. When you spend money on stuff, it’s just temporary. Your stuff can’t love you back,” Dad said.
My dad also credits my mom, his best friend, with supporting him whenever times are tough. My mom is recovering from surgery, and because of the layoff, my dad is home with her and able to help with her recovery and physical therapy – an opportunity for which he is grateful.
He is waiting to hear back on a recent job application, but no matter the outcome, he says, “God is providing and watching out for me in ways that will bless my family.”
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